Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Banff and Vicinity #2 – Alberta Canada

As I mentioned in a previous blog, we like to explore the areas around where we're staying…and any road that doesn’t require a 4-wheel drive is fair game!  This blog is primarily focused on the scenery in and around Banff…less commentary than usual!  Some of you might have noticed that my blogs sometimes tend to be a bit verbose…

This is another view from our hotel room in Banff… The clouds came and went on an hourly basis and we did have a few showers too. 

Do you or another family member like to shop?  Banff has a plethora of retailers to choose from…ranging from cheap souvenirs to high end art, clothing, jewelry, as well as minerals, rocks and fossils costing thousands of dollars.

There is even a store in Banff that sells products that are made from muskoxen!  Qiviut is combed from the musk oxen’s naturally shedding undercoats each spring, "Qiviut" yarn is highly prized for its luxurious feel that will last for years because of its amazing features: it gets even softer when washed, doesn't shed, will not shrink no matter what the water temperature, and retains warmth even when wet yet provides cool, breathable comfort in warmer weather.  Oh…and did I mention that it’s just a little pricy?  How about $955.00 for a nice woman’s sweater, or if that’s a little too much, a nice shawl can be had for only $835.00! 
To visit a Qiviuk retail website to pick up a little something for a loved one for Christmas, just go to  ‘Unfortunately’, Laurie is allergic to wool and though Qiviut is not wool per se, it didn't agree with her skin, so we had to pass on a Qiviut 'souvenir'!  

Now the sun is out… That’s when the scenery is spectacular!  Note the traffic and crowds.  Banff is not a place to get away from people…

This is the railroad depot in Banff… Trackside, it has that classic railroad look but it’s been modified in the front and thusly I feel that it was robbed of part of its charm.   This depot is used by the Rocky Mountaineer and the Royal Canadian Pacific train service.  The station was originally built for the Canadian Pacific Railway. 
For information regarding train travel on the two tourist rail lines mentioned above, you can go ‘tourist class’ via the Rocky Mountaineer at and/or luxury class aboard the Royal Canadian Pacific at

This is a view of Banff from along the Mount Norquay Road, which leads up to the Mount Norquay Ski area. 

This misty photo shows some of the ski runs up on Mount Norquay… To learn more about skiing at Mount Norquay, just go to  They’ve been in operation since 1926…

There are limited options for a drive in the mountains around any of these towns in the Canadian Rockies.  One short drive takes you east from Banff across the Trans Canadian Highway and up the Minnewanka Loop to Lake Minnewanka.   The lake, (called "Water of the Spirits" in Nakoda), is a glacial lake located in Banff National Park, about 3 miles northeast of the town of Banff.  The lake is 17 miles long and 466 feet deep.  

A hydroelectric dam built in 1941 raised the lake 98 feet.  As a result, the resort village of Minnewanka Landing that had been there since 1888 was submerged. Boat tours are available and a hiking and mountain biking trail runs along the northern shore of the lake with six backcountry campsites.  Mount Aylmer, (10,374 feet), which is only a couple of miles north of the lake, is the highest mountain in this area of the park. 

We came across our first notable wildlife, these Rocky Mountain Sheep beside the we drove along the Minnewanka Loop. 

As you can see, these sheep weren’t afraid or even nervous around cars or RV’s.  To learn more about these Rocky Mountain Sheep, just click on the following:

This one just strolled down the road ahead of us for a bit, holding up traffic and dropping little ‘presents’ in front of the car for us to run over…

So…like I said, the Minnewanka Loop wasn’t a long drive.  What to do next?  Well, I decided to head north on the Trans Canadian Highway for a bit.
I’m sure that you noted the police car sitting by the overpass… However, did you really note that the overpass is a wildlife overpass?  The busy Trans Canadian Highway through the park features several of these overpasses as well as many large wildlife underpasses.  For more information and a video on these safe wildlife crossings, you can go to 

We followed the Trans Canadian Highway north to where Highway 93 cuts across the mountains toward the town of Golden British Columbia…and we headed west.

We crossed into British Columbia and we passed a lot of spectacular scenery.  However, the traffic was horrendous with people headed home after the long August weekend…and the weather turned windy and rainy as well.

So, we turned around on Route 93 and headed back into Alberta.  The wild rose is the Provincial flower, the lodgepole pine is the Provincial tree and Provincial bird is the Great Horned Owl.  Alberta has a population of close to 3,700,000 and it covers 247,137 square miles.  The province has a population about equal to that of Oklahoma in an area equivalent to Montana and Oregon combined.  To learn more about Alberta, go to

As we returned to the Alberta side of the mountains, the weather again began to improve and the scenery was spectacular…

As the sun came out, everything became much more photogenic! 

Given the improvement in the weather, we took another side road, this time north off of Highway 93 and up to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.
To learn more about Yoho National Park, you can go to 
Then it was back to Banff in time for dinner… Per our Aussie bartender, it had been Chinese cuisine the previous night and tonight we’d decided we were going to check out his recommendation for Greek food! 
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for joining us for our afternoon drive in the Canadian Rockies!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. Gorgeous country up there… The Canadian Rockies are on our LONG list of places we want to visit. Your photos make me anxious to get there sooner rather than later…. Thanks for sharing.

  2. these pictures look absolutely beautiful David!!!

  3. Dear Dave, What a nice trip. The country is beautiful. The animals are beautiful too. Blessings, Catherine

  4. You got some great shots of the spectacular scenery - I enjoyed your drive.